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Spelling problems, possibly side effect of phonics - what specialist to contact?

  • 24-01-2018 2:34pm
    Registered Users Posts: 793 ✭✭✭ MichaelR

    So I have a son who is now in secondary school, is generally bright, reads well, but has a serious problem with spelling. Moreover, it recently turned out that he also totally fails at "word search" tasks in any language.

    I think he got hit with the side effects of phonics in primary school. He is so used to seeing letters as sounds that he does not see the whole word as a visually recognizable object.

    At this point supplemental teaching, which was tried for a number of years, appears to have failed thoroughly. We need a psychology-related specialist, but what specialist?

    Is this considered "speech and language therapy" or is this considered "psychological therapy"? Limerick has specialists providing one and the other, but which ones do we contact? Or is there any other kind of specialist?

    Note: I do not expect to get useful intervention advice on this forum. Intervention must be individual and qualified. The only question here is what particular kind of specialist is qualified.


  • Registered Users Posts: 698 ✭✭✭ SuperRabbit

    I was around before they started using phonics and I have the problems you've described. I was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child but a type that only affects writing, not reading. My parents took me to a psychologist for that diagnosis, but as I was a kid I'm afraid I can't tell you what type. I would say it is psychological therapy, not speech and language, I'm sure someone else will be able to confirm.

    That's the part that you actually asked for, if you are curious about what helped me read on, if not, disregard :)

    I am now an above average speller thanks to what helped me, which was writing a lot on a computer with a spellchecker. To give you an idea, when I was 13 and started secondary school, despite having read hundreds of books, I could not spell the word "what". "I cud not spel nething". Then we got a computer, and by the time I was 15 I was spelling normally, though I still struggled with the typical tricky words and took longer to learn them (words like "definitely" or "unfortunately" or "soliloquy" etc.). What motivated me to write was fan-fiction, but any writing hobby, including texting friends, would have helped.

    To this day, every time I see a word underlined in red, rather than correcting it automatically I try to guess what the right answer is, and then check. You can set up phones to work like this instead of using autocorrect.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 849 ✭✭✭ Tenigate

    Someone who specialises is dyslexia anyway. .. I'm sure some speech therapists as well as psychologists specialise in that area.

  • Registered Users Posts: 698 ✭✭✭ SuperRabbit

    My understanding of what speech and language therapists do suggests to me that it is very different. Assuming your son does not have difficulty stringing together sentences while speaking, organising his thoughts verbally, or pronouncing certain sounds, I would say they aren't into it. I think an Educational Psychologist is what you need.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Education Moderators Posts: 26,850 CMod ✭✭✭✭ spurious

    Without being any sort of expert, I think it would be an Educational Psychologist first, if only to point you in the correct direction.

    Does the special needs teacher in his school have any suggestions?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,735 ✭✭✭ dar100

    your looking for a educational psychologist, although, I don't see how the school has not picked up on this and informed you and advised on supports. The school should, I'd imagine, have a relationship with a educational psychologist

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  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭ sadie9

    It sounds like your son has a form of dyslexia. See Dyslexia association of Ireland website here. You can get on a list for an assessment at his school or pay yourself for a private assessment with them. You might find an educational psychologist in your area who will do the assessment. It'd be well worth pursuing as even if it's only a mild form, if you know about something you can take it into consideration and examiners will be made aware when marking exams etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 698 ✭✭✭ SuperRabbit

    dar100 wrote: »
    your looking for a educational psychologist, although, I don't see how the school has not picked up on this and informed you and advised on supports. The school should, I'd imagine, have a relationship with a educational psychologist

    My secondary school never said or did anything or gave me any support, they just wrote on every single thing I wrote "mind your spelling". Not helpful.

    My primary school put me in remedial English classes for a while, realized that didn't work because tests showed my reading level was a decade ahead of the average for my age, took me out of the remedial classes again and told my parents they didn't know what to do. That's why my parents took me to the private psychologist. She said I had "very mild" dyslexia and it would probably go away by itself.